Two or Three (part two of three)
By Zac Harmon-McLaughlin of Walnut Creek, CA, USA
For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. —Matthew 18:20 NRSV
I am humbled by the presence of spirit and vision in a congregation I was working with. This is a congregation, perhaps like yours, that has few in the pews on Sunday morning. Month after month, they host a dinner for people who may not be able to afford dinner out. They gather a community of over 100 to break bread with one another.
As I watch this event unfolding I see the reality of Christ being present. There is hugging, smiling, sharing of stories, laughing, and handshakes. Most importantly, they form community. Church is happening before my eyes. There are no hymns or sermons, but there are prayers and the breaking of bread.
They also host a biweekly gathering for youth from the neighborhood to explore the sacredness of creation. This ministry finishes with a week-long camp in the summer. Over 100 youth and 30 youth volunteers celebrate God’s creation. This is where mission begins. Right here with encounter!
Another congregation offers a monthly food pantry for their small rural community. I shared with them in this experience. It took two days of work to make it happen. I heard from person after person the importance of Community of Christ for them and their community. They shared how Community of Christ was a blessing in their lives, how they looked forward to seeing one another. In so many words, they were saying, “They are creating a community where Christ’s mission thrives!” This is what Community of Christ Enduring Principles and Mission Initiatives look like!
When did we stop believing in the scripture from Matthew 18:20—“Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them”? When did the success or spiritual capacity of a congregation become tied to the number of people attending on Sunday morning or a budget?
Being missional is responding to our discipleship. It does not have an agenda for creating megachurches or extravagant programs. It lives in the movements of God, around and through us, in our communities and contexts. The missional church is not a church concerned with numbers or budget. The missional church courageously moves forward with a powerful, stubborn hope in a culture full of doubt, anxiety, and fear promoted in articles on our news feeds. God reminds us, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10).
Prayer for Peace
Ever-present God, help us remember your promises. You will be there for us, no matter how small we are in number. You will be with us, and we don’t have to be afraid. You restore our hope. Help us restore Christ’s peace.
Spiritual Practice: Experience Congregations in Mission
Read and reflect on Doctrine and Covenants 164:9a–d. Reread the sentence, “If you truly would be Community of Christ, then embody and live the concerns and passion of Christ.” Make a list of the issues you feel mattered most to Christ. Make another list of issues that matter to your congregation. Reflect on the likenesses and differences. How can you help align the lists? Throughout the day, as issues arise, ask yourself, “Would this matter to Christ?”
Today, God, I will remember growth means change as well as increase.